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Dub Trio - "Another Sound Is Dying" (CD)

Dub Trio - "Another Sound Is Dying" CD cover image

"Another Sound Is Dying" track listing:

1. Not For Nothing
2. Jog On
3. Bay vs. Leonard
4. Felicitacion
5. Mortar Dub
6. Regression Line
7. Who Wants To Die?
8. Respite
9. No Flag
10. The Midnight Rider
11. Safe And Sane
12. Agonist
13. Fuck What You Heard
14. Funishment

Reviewed by on April 22, 2008

"one spacey, violent and less-than-predictable item of sonic mastery"

Dub is a forty-or-so-year-old Jamaican music style. Metal is...well, it’s not really even in the same ballpark. So what am I doing on a metal site reviewing an album by a group named Dub Trio? Believe it or not, this is a band that actually sounds very, very metal. Stu Brooks, DP Holmes and Joe Tomino have taken two largely different genres, disassembled them, and created something new and exciting - something with the leaden drive of metal right alongside the empty spaces and soaring cacophonies of dub. I can dig it.

When I first listened to this album, I had completely forgotten that Dub Trio is, with the exception of a few Mike Patton collaborations, an instrumental band. I can’t tell you how unnerving it was to sit through 20 minutes of crushing riffs and bouncing bass lines waiting for the singing to start before realizing there weren’t any vocals. I actually thought the entire five-minute opener was just an intro! However, once I stopped waiting for vocals and started listening to the music, I decided I wouldn’t actually want this music to have vocals anyway. It’s like taking the down-tuned sound of nu-metal and with it exploring epic soundscapes; Singing would only reduce it to sounding like more typical nu-metal. Though the lack of vocals makes "Another Sound Is Dying" harder to come to grips with at first, it also raises the artistry of the musicians to a much higher pedestal than would otherwise have been the case.

While Dub Trio does intoxicate their music with some rather different (to metal) sounds right out of a reggae jam session, the dub part of their sound comes mainly in the form of the songs and the foundations of the music. The metal side of the story is more about the production, the tuning, and the uncontrollable headbanging you didn’t even realize you were doing. The bass lines waltz through vast, cavernous places, and the drums echo from the walls of colossal, unseen cliffs. The guitar riffs are at once intrinsic and a display of unchannelled aggression. The best bit about "Another Sound Is Dying" is that each instrument is clearly audible and distinguishable from the others at all times. No instrument drowns out the other, none are given preference, and each has an equal priority in the resultant sound. Talk about refreshing.

The song “No Flag” is the only song on Another Sound Is Dying that features vocal tracks, thanks to guest performer Mike Patton. “No Flag” is a quietly disconcerting number that crescendos into a psychotic attack on the senses. Patton begins in a whispery, stalking voice that ascends to his well-known shriek for the chorus. If Dub Trio ever considered becoming a non-instrumental band, they would need to find someone as adept at creating chaos as Patton himself.

The main problem with this album is one inherent of all instrumental bands: the music just isn’t active enough. Sure, you can tap your feet and stamp your legs and raise your fists and toss your head around like it’s having multiple seizures. But you can’t sing along, or growl, as the case may be for many metalheads. This drawback, for me, is a bit of a problem. I don’t feel as involved in the music as I do when I can shout out a tuneless impersonation of whoever I might be listening to at the time. It’s a small complaint, considering how good the music is, and how much I toss my head around anyway, but it is a little bit disappointing. Perhaps on the next record we'll see a few more collaborations – not many, just the one or two, please. That aside, however, "Another Sound Is Dying" is overall a seamless cutting and reparation of two styles into one spacey, violent, and less-than-predictable item of sonic mastery.

Highs: A brilliant combination of the dub sense of space and the metal sense of depth

Lows: One or two more vocal tracks might have been nice

Bottom line: A great album, perfect for when you’re not altogether 'there' or 'with it'

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)